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Woodburn's counseling records to be reviewed

by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter
December 05, 2018
REGION — The legal saga surrounding domestic violence charges against North Country Sen. Jeff Woodburn continues to unfold.

Woodburn, who was defeated last month in his bid for re-election, faces nine misdemeanor charges of abuse against his former partner.

Recently, Judge Thomas Rappa ruled that he will review counseling records between Woodburn and the alleged victim in the case. Woodburn is claiming self-defense, and said that the alleged victim "repeatedly tried to block or restrain Mr. Woodburn from leaving her, including at one point brandishing a knife, and that any force that Mr. Woodburn used against the alleged victim was necessary for him to use in order to leave or attempt to leave a volatile situation created by the alleged victim."

Dr. Paul Donohue, the couple's counselor, was asked to hand over counseling records between the two parties. In a court filing, Woodburn said that Donohue left a voicemail warning him to 'proceed with caution' and relayed to Woodburn that his ex was planning ways to 'get back at you' for ending the relationship.

Woodburn stated that he wanted the records shared with the judge to show the situation as a whole. Judge Rappa will review the records in camera.

In his ruling, Rappa wrote, "The entirety of the counseling records related to the defendant and the alleged victim shall be submitted to the court for an in camera review to determine which, if any, contain exculpatory information that should be provided to the defendant. The use of any such records deemed by the court to be discoverable shall be subject to further protective orders as the court deems necessary and appropriate."

Rappa further said, "There is a reasonable probability that the records contain relevant material in that the defendant has made the necessary showing that the records may contain information that impacts the alleged victim's credibility."

Woodburn's filing will remain sealed due to the fact that the records are confidential and may or may not be used as evidence.

"I'm looking forward to going to court and clearing my name. The process will continue to reveal not only the truth, but also the motivations, tactics and politics surrounding these charges," said Woodburn.

Patricia LaFrance, the attorney representing the alleged victim (whose name we have chosen not to disclose in keeping with our policy regarding victims of domestic violence), has rebutted claims that her client went to the police to seek revenge on Woodburn. The Attorney General's office apparently learned of the alleged domestic violence through a person in the state legislature. At this time, that person is unknown.

The alleged victim allegedly recorded Woodburn without his knowledge for several months. Woodburn's journal that has been the subject of several news stories was allegedly left at the victim's house. The alleged victim signed a 'proffer' letter which would protect her from being charged with any crimes. Recording someone without their knowledge is a misdemeanor in New Hampshire.

The 'proffer' letter from Attorney General Geoffrey Ward, included in the motion read, "It is understood that after reviewing (alleged victim's) proffered information the state will explore and evaluate the possibility of (her) cooperating with the state. Therefore, it agrees the state will not use any of (her) proffered information provided by her at the proffer against her in any criminal prosecution, except for crimes enumerated in RSA 641:1, 641:2, 641:3 and 641:4; or their equivalents in other jurisdictions, provided that this information is truthful. If the (alleged victim) knowingly lies during this proffer, the state will be allowed to introduce any and all statements that (she) makes during this proffer or evidence provided by her at the proffer in any and all court proceedings."

Rappa has transferred the case from the Circuit Court to Cos County Superior Court, where a jury trial will decide the case.

Varney Smith
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